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Under 21 Charges

Attorney Matthew Ruff Defends Under 21 Criminal Offenses

Call Matthew Directly For A Consultation 310-527-4100

Matthew has 23 years fighting and winning charges involving minors. Minor in possession and minors who are in violation of alcohol laws can be jeopardizing their future if they are convicted in Court. Most major employers, Universities and Government programs all have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to the abuse of drugs and alcohol. Matthew has one of the highest success rates on MIP cases in Los Angeles County. The reality is that most parents don't understand the true consequences and long term impact these offenses can have on a young person. The charges can be dismissed if handled properly.

Young people over eighteen but under twenty one years of age are in a unique place in the eyes of the law. They are old enough to be considered an adult, they can enter into contracts and move out on their own, but are restricted in many ways as to their conduct. If they commit a crime they are no longer protected by juvenile Court and will go to adult jail if arrested. Unlike kids under 18, those individuals over 18 but under 21 will not be taken home to their parents by the police. Crimes such as underage DUI, drug possession, alcohol offenses, open container, marijuana offenses, etc. will all be treated very differently and sternly by Judges and law enforcement.


Matt was hired to defend a 19 year old after she was arrested for DUI in Santa Clarita. The client was found passed out in the driver seat, vomit on the ground, and an empty bottle of Vodka in the car. A breath test revealed a .11 BAC. She was facing a one year loss of her license and a permanent blemish on her record, not to mention the horrific insurance consequences. Matt understood the potential impact this would have so he took the case to trial, asserting various defenses. On July 12, 2018, after a 3 day trial in San Fernando a jury agreed with Matt and ACQUITTED his client, NOT GUILTY VERDICT on all charges.

Matthew was retained by the parents if a 17 year old arrested after crashing his car in Manhattan Beach. The young man was booked for DUI, curfew violations and violation his restricted license for having other minors in the car. The client was facing a year suspension of his license but Matt took steps to immediately stop the suspension, got a formal hearing and persuaded the DMV to set aside the action after he successfully proved the blood test was insufficient to legally warrant a suspension.

20 year old client arrested for DUI in El Segundo. His parents hired Matthew who immediately sought a hearing to challenge the mandatory license suspension. That hearing did not go in the client's favor. Not deterred, Matthew set the case for trial in the Inglewood Courthouse. At trial Matthew presented arguments that the breath test was unreliable and the Judge agreed and acquitted the defendant of the DUI allegations. Matthew then took this finding to an appeal before the DMV and they vacated and set aside the suspension and cleared his record for all future searches.

There are a litany of criminal charges relating to alcohol and persons under 21. To begin, it is against the law in California for a person under 21 to buy, attempt to buy or be furnished any alcoholic beverage. The criminal law defines an alcoholic beverage as any liquid containing more than half an ounce of alcohol. Similarly, it is illegal for any bar owner to serve or any store clerk to sell any minor under the age of 21 an alcoholic beverage. The applicable code sections governing the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors are seen in Business and Professions Code 23004, 25658(b), 25658.5, BP&C 25658.4 and 25659 respectively. If you are under 21 you cannot possess liquor on any roadway or in any public place, nor can you carry liquor as any passenger in a car unless accompanied by a parent- even if the container is sealed. Furthermore, while under twenty one years of age you cannot work in an establishment whose primary business is the sale of alcoholic beverages Pursuant to B&P Code 25663.

Another common problem among young people under 21 is the falsification of drivers licenses in order to buy booze or get into a bar or nightclub. California law makes it a serious crime to manufacture a fake drivers license for your own use or to give to someone else, the mere possession of a fraudulent license or identification could be a felony offense. Moreover, simply borrowing a genuine drivers license from an older friend is also a crime. It is illegal to lend, borrow or alter a driver's license or ID card in any way. Both the person holding the card and the individual that provided it to you can be breaking the law under Vehicle Code 14610, and BP&C 25660.5 and 25661.

Under 21 drivers also face a different set of laws pertaining to drinking and driving. If you are under twenty one you cannot drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your blood, this means anything .01% or above. These laws, known as zero tolerance, carry huge penalties if violated. For example, if a person is driving with a BAC above a .01 percent he or she can lose their driving privilege for one year, in addition to heavy fines. It is important to acquire the services of an experienced Under 21 DUI Lawyer if you or anyone you know is in this situation. An attorney can request a DMV hearing and challenge the evidence, in many cases saving the drivers license or getting a restricted license for the young person. Refusal to submit to a chemical test is also a serious issue. When under 21, unlike folks over 21, you must blow into a field breath test device at the request of a police officer. The refusal to do so carries harsher penalties than for those who take the test and are over the limit. The laws governing the Under 21 drinking driver are found in Vehicle Code 23136, 23140 23536, 23612 and VC13353.1.

A prime example of the results Mr. Ruff has obtained for his under 21 clients is a recent case in Torrance. The minor was stopped along with two other youths. The police officer observed a bottle of alcohol within plain view in the back seat. The client was ordered out and given a breath test to determine the alcohol content of his blood. Being under 21, he could not refuse the in field P.A.S. test which showed his BAC to be above the legal limit for his age. The minor was cited to appear in Court and his parents hired Mr. Ruff. When the attorney went to Court he negotiated with the prosecutor to dismiss the underage DUI, dismiss the open container charge and plead no contest to a simple unlawful turning movement (failure to signal) for a small fine. Similarly, in another case in informal juvenile traffic Court in Torrance, the lawyer represented a Palos Verdes High football player (under age 18) who was charged with possession of alcohol and cigarettes. Unwilling to allow the government to take away his client's drivers license and stick a black mark on the young man's DMV record, Mr. Ruff arranged to have all charges dismissed upon completion of an alcohol education class. The result being no mandated license suspension from the DMV and no conviction which would most certainly cause cancellation of insurance.

In another case, Matthew defended a young lady aspiring to become a registered nurse. She was cited for having an open container in a vehicle (VC23223). These charges do not look good for people applying for jobs in the medical field. The lawyer fought the case by setting it for trial. At trial in downtown Los Angeles Metro Court in late 2012, Matthew presented a legal defense that persuaded the Judge to find the client "not guilty". The success saved the young person's chances of becoming a great nurse.

Parents also appreciate the fact that Matthew fights to keep very negative driving offenses off the record of their minor children. For example, on March 16, 2010 Mr. Ruff got VC 23140 (Underage DUI) criminal charges thrown out for a 19 year old college student that was cited after crashing her car and blowing a .07 and .07 on breath tests in northern Los Angeles County on the Northridge CSUN campus. Matthew went to trial for the young girl and persuaded the Judge that the breath tests were inadmissible. The Chatsworth Court dismissed the VC 23140 charges and the attorney walked out of Court with a win for the client. Thereafter, he took that acquittal and obtained a set aside of the DMV APS suspension utilizing a not so well known California law. In the end the young woman walked away with her license and nothing on her criminal record.

Matthew also defended a young student on her way to becoming a nurse. She was cited for having an open container in a vehicle and was worried it would ruin her chances of being an R.N. The lawyer fought the case in Court and obtained an acquittal of all charges in the downtown metropolitan Court in Los Angeles in early 2012. She has since gone on to enroll in the nursing program she so wanted to pursue.

In another under 21 DUI case Matthew saved the client's license at the DMV APS hearing in Van Nuys even though the police officer obtained a breath sample that was nearly three times the legal limit for minors. The young man who was 20 years old was stopped by the Glendale police for running a stop sign just outside Burbank city limits, he was detained and the officer detected alcohol on his breath, he gave him a PAS breath test that revealed a level over the limit for under 21 drivers and took his CDL and gave him a pink notice of suspension. The client had the good sense to hire Matthew right away and he got the client a DMV hearing. At the hearing the attorney made motions to exclude the breath test on various technical grounds which were sustained and the hearing officer set aside the suspension on May 25, 2010.

Call to speak with the attorney at 310-527-4100. Hiring Attorney Matthew J. Ruff immediately after the offense can make all the difference!

Another favorable result for an underage 21 client was achieved in October 2009 when Mr. Ruff won a DMV hearing in a zero tolerance DUI case in Torrance. The client blew over the legal limit and was facing a one year suspension of his license. The attorney found impropriety's in the breath testing procedures and convinced the hearing officer to set aside the action.

Minors can also be charged with possession of alcoholic beverages, both inside and outside a motor vehicle. In a recent case in the south bay, the attorney represented a 17 year old that possessed a 30 pack of beer and hard alcohol in a car on their way to a party. The parents made the right decision to hire a lawyer early and due to their quick action Mr. Ruff was able to get in an arrange a diversion for the minor thereby keeping the offense off the kid's DMV record and having all charges dismissed after attending an education class. Also, early this year Matthew defended a college student arrested for drunk in public and carrying an alcoholic beverage in Long Beach California. The parents contacted our office before the youth went to Court and therefore a pre-trial diversion was worked out with the prosecutor that resulted in all charges being dismissed.

Having experienced legal counsel is crucial to obtaining a just result when faced with these violations. If you have been cited or arrested for any under 21 violation in Los Angeles, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes, Gardena, Bakersfield, Santa Clarita, or anywhere else in Los Angeles or Kern County Call Attorney Matthew Ruff for a free consultation at toll free 1-877-213-4453.

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